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Actors Bryan Nash and Emma Francis share a tense cup of tea in the CBU Boardmore Theatre’s production of Sheldon Currie’s play, “Lauchie, Liza and Rory.” The show opens at the Boardmore Playhouse on Tuesday for a six-performance run. Contributed/Norma Jean MacPhee, Boardmore Theatre
A good laugh around the card table is shared by actors Emma Francis and Bryan Nash in Sheldon Currie’s play, “Lauchie, Liza and Rory.” Contributed/Norma Jean MacPhee, Boardmore Theatre
“When in doubt, consult the Good Book” is this scene from Sheldon Currie’s play, “Lauchie, Liza and Rory,” featuring actors, from left, Emma Francis and Bryan Nash. Contributed/Norma Jean MacPhee, Boardmore Theatre
Two actors and multiple characters take to the stage next week for the opening of “Lauchie, Liza and Rory” at the Boardmore Playhouse.
“As Anne, the narrator of ‘Lauchie, Liza and Rory’ says, ‘This is one sad story, but you’ll enjoy it because it’s funny, it happened to us. If it happened to your family, I’d probably laugh my head off’,” said Todd Hiscock, director of the latest production at the Boardmore on the Cape Breton University campus.
“Lauchie, Liza and Rory” by Reserve Mines author Sheldon Currie, adapted for the stage by Mary-Colin Chisholm, opens on Tuesday for a six-day run.
“I read this play several years ago and have been interested in staging it since,” Hiscock recalls. “I wanted our season of plays this year to offer more comedies during the winter months and thought it was time to do this play.
“Just over a year ago, I contacted Sheldon Currie to ask permission to do the play. He was excited the Boardmore wanted to do the play, since he was very pleased with our production of ‘The Company Store’ a few years ago.”
The story, set in a Cape Breton mining town, recounts how a young woman married to one twin brother ponders whether she should have married his brother.
“The play is different because it has only two actors playing all the roles,” Hiscock observes. “So, when one actor has to play two characters having a conversation, the actor and the director have to be very inventive to make the story clear for the audience. I have to be sure the audience identifies each character through the actor’s vocal inflection, physical gesture, and the creative use of props and costume.”
The production features two actors — Bryan Nash and Emma Francis.
“Something I could never be prepared for is the transition from one character to another seamlessly without hesitation which is what happens in this show,” explained Nash, who has performed in numerous plays such “Machinal,” “The Rocky Horror Show,” “Picnic” and “Charlotte's Web.”
Francis has also had a variety of onstage experiences in “Shakespeare's Dog,” “Oliver!,” “She Loves Me,” “Dracula” and the Harry Potter plays at CaperCon.
“I've never done a play like this before,” said Francis.
She believes her previous experience at the Boardmore and its audience has helped her because, “you can really hear and feel the relationship between the actor and the audience building. With a live audience, the silences are more purposeful, the reactions are bigger, the jokes are funnier, the emotions are real. This play is intensely performative and the audience has a vital role in that.”
Nash says of the five characters he plays, “My favourite is Rory because of his relationship with his mother. It's fun to act wild like Rory sometimes.”
Francis has six characters and says, “Anne, the older sister of Lauchie and Rory, is probably my favourite character. She's been waiting to tell this story for a longtime and she's got a lot to say. I like her sense of humour and her temper, and the way she interacts with her family.”
Nash and Francis both like Sheldon Currie’s style of storytelling.
“Currie has a way of telling a story that is very conversational which I love,” Nash said. “There is no better way to tell a story in my opinion. Currie really hits the nail on the head with this play. He writes a story that happens to be universal for us here in Sydney, Glace Bay, New Waterford or anywhere else in Cape Breton for that matter.
Francis agrees with Nash and adds, “There's a lot going on under the surface, sometimes that's the joke but it can also be sad and bitter. There's a lot about choices and about holding on to things even when we don't want to. I love the ending, it's really beautiful and I'm excited for people to experience the sad but funny journey to get there.”
“As a storyteller Sheldon Currie draws on what he knows: his own community in which he grew up,” Hiscock said. “He tells it as it is; so his honesty as a writer makes him special.”
Ken Chisholm lives in Sydney and has written plays, songs, reviews, magazine articles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.